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Matthew 19:16-24 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Difficulty of Rich Entering the Kingdom

Matthew 19:16-24 – Difficulty of Rich Entering the Kingdom

|| Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-25

MT19:16 And, look! a [young] person[1] approached Jesus, asking, “Teacher, what good shall I do[2] so that I might have everlasting life?”[3] MT19:17 Jesus told him, “Why do you ask me about some ‘good’?[4] [Only] One is ‘good’.[5] But if you wish to enter Life,[6] observe the commandments.”[7] MT19:18 This person answered, “Which [commandments]?” Jesus responded: “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false testimony,’ MT19:19 ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Exodus 20:13-16] MT19:20 The young man told Jesus, “I have guarded myself regarding all of these.[8] What more am I lacking?”[9] MT19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish perfection[10] leave and sell your belongings[11] and give to the poor[12] – then you will have treasure in heaven – and [then] come be my follower.”[13] MT19:22 But having heard this statement the young man departed very depressed,[14] for he had many possessions.[15] MT19:23 Now Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you this truth: Rich people will only enter the Realm of Heaven with great difficulty.[16] MT19:24 In addition I tell you this: It is easier for a camel to enter through a needle’s eye[17] than for rich people to enter the Realm of Heaven.”

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[1] A [young] person: Revealed in verse 20.

[2] Teacher, what good shall I do: Mark 10:17 adds, “… a certain man ran up and fell upon his knees before him and put the question to him: ‘Good Teacher, what must I do…’” He addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher.” Luke 18:18 adds, “… a certain (religious) ruler.” Therefore, a young rabbi. The Received Text (KJV) has, “Good Teacher.”

[3] Everlasting life: The Greek is ZOEN AIONION. Or, KJV: eternal life; RHM: life age-abiding; TCNT: immortal life; BECK: everlasting life. See word studies else where by researching AION or everlasting life.

[4] Why do you ask me about some ‘good’: This response has resulted in much commentary. If Jesus were “God” one wonders why he would resist a title with the word “good” in it. The Lesson of Eden is that only Yehowah can determine what is ‘good’ and this is not the responsibility of Messiah. Research the word good or AGATHOS (from which the name Agatha comes). Note that the Nazarene’s response is to point to the Ten Commandments and the Law. He does not originate his own philosophy.

[5] [Only] One is ‘good’: Or, KJV: none is good but one, that is, God; ASV: One there is who is good; KNX: God is good, and he only; WMS: there is only one who is perfectly good; ABUV: One is the Good. The subject is absolute or ultimate Good. No one would argue that Jesus was no a “good man.” Note John 7:12. Compare also how others are described as “good.” (2 Samuel 18:27; Proverbs 14:14) Jesus recognizes there are good people (Matthew 12:35; Luke 6:45; Romans 5:7). Surely Jesus refers to his Father, Yehowah.

[6] To enter Life: It may be argued that “Life” here is something like John 5:24 and 1 John 3:14. Thus “Life” means the new Life within the Realm of Heaven – the Church. Others will limit it to that future Life though both may be include.

[7] Observe the commandments: It is possible Jesus speaks to a young Jewish rabbi. Note the commandments Jesus lists. It will startle some what he has omitted in a list of his own choosing: the Name and the Sabbath. Jesus goes on to quote Exodus 20:13-16 then skipping back to Exodus 20:12. He also quotes what he calls late the Second Greatest Commandment: Leviticus 19:18.

[8] I have guarded myself regarding all of these: The KJV version adds: “… from my youth up.” Or, ASV: all these things have I observed; WEY: carefully obeyed.

[9] What more am I lacking: Or, NEB: where do I still fall short; BER: how do I still fall behind; WEY: what more is required. One wonders if there is some self-righteous hypocrisy here. However, Paul himself claims such rigorous righteousness or obedience to the law (Philippians 3:6).

[10] If you wish perfection: Or, KNX: if thou hast a mind to be perfect; NEB: if you wish to go the whole way; NASB: to be complete. To the Nazarene spiritual perfection will involve charity. See notes on Matthew 5:48. – Perfect: This is the Greek word TELEIOI from TELOS (= “end”) and may be rendered “complete, mature, fulfilled.”

[11] Leave and sell your belongings: Or, RHM: withdraw! sell thy substance; go and sell your possessions. Note how in Luke 12:32, 33 Jesus tells his “little flock” the same thing. Note their response in Acts 2:44, 45; Acts 4:34-37.

[12] Give to the poor: The man could divest himself of his possessions in any manner of ways: giving it to his family, hiding investments. Jesus gives no hint that he expects the man to contribute to him though never was there a poorer man on earth (2 Corinthians 8:9). The young rabbi must say goodbye to all his belongings – strip himself from material attachment and desire.

[13] And [then] come be my follower: Note he must do this before becoming a follower or disciple of Jesus. It is possible “follower” means a member of the Nazarene’s private entourage of apostles.

[14] The young man departed very depressed: Or, KJV: he went away sorrowful; NASB: he went away grieved; KNX: sad of heart; RIEU: in gloom; WMS: in deep distress; PME: crestfallen. We watch our Lord’s eyes as he follows the young man as he leaves and we note a slight expression of pity. We would like to know the future of this young rabbi. Did he follow later, become an angry opposer screaming for crucifixion, or merely indifferent. We wonder at his death what thoughts he must have had.

[15] Many possessions: Or, NASB: owned much property; NEB: a man of great wealth; BECK: very rich.

[16] Rich people will only enter the Realm of Heaven with great difficulty: Perhaps of all the teachings of the Nazarene this is the one most disliked by western capitalist society. While the world struggles to be rich Jesus warns of the great difficulty in such conflicting lifestyles and ideals. Compare the notes on Matthew 5:42 and Matthew 6:25. Or, KJV: a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven; ASV: it is hard for a rich man; MON: a rich man will find it difficult. Though the celestial realm of God is the final goal, Jesus makes it clear that it will be very hard for a rich person to become a Christian and gain membership in the Realm of Profession. Note Paul’s counsel to the rich at 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Throughout the Gospel Age there have been wealthy Christians who gave all to help others, while others used their riches to forward the Gospel message. Research the words rich and riches. In Bible terms “rich” means having a surplus (Mark 12:44; 2 Corinthians 8:14).

[17] Camel to enter through a needle’s eye: The Lamsa translation of the Aramaic has this ‘a rope through the needle’s eye.’ Some understand it is the difficulty a camel has in crawling through a very narrow gate to enter a city. It must get on its knees and move forward with difficulty. The Nazarene does not say it is impossible nor does he rule it out altogether. He just says it will be difficult for a rich person to give attention to discipleship while torn over riches. The conflict between love and greed is the struggle between self and others.

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Preceding

Matthew 19:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: From Galilee to Judah

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce – additional verses

Matthew 19:10-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Celibacy

Matthew 19:13-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Kingdom Belongs to Child-like

Matthew 5:43-47 – 6. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18

Matthew 5:43-47 – 6. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18

MT5:43 “You heard it said: ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’[1] [Leviticus 19:18] MT5:44 But, I tell you: Love your enemies[2] and pray for your persecutors. MT5:45 And so prove to be Sons of your Heavenly Father.[3] For His sun rises upon the wicked and the good. And He rains upon the righteous and unrighteous. MT5:46 For what is your reward if you only love those loving you? Are not tax-collectors doing the same? MT5:47 And, what extraordinary thing are you doing if you only greet your brothers?[4] Are not the Non-Jews[5] doing the same thing? MT5:48 So, you shall be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.[6]

[1] Hate your enemy: The NJB ftn comments: “The second part of this commandment is not found in the law. It is the brusque expression of a language which has few half-tones and is equivalent to: ‘There is no obligation to love one’s enemy.’” However, one might find the spirit in Psalms 26:5; 101:3; 119:104, 113; 139:21, 22.

[2] Love your enemies: Barclay:

“There is no commandment of Jesus which has caused so much discussion and debate as the commandment to love our enemies.”

The Greek for “love” here is from AGAPE and many feel the English “love” does not do justice to this word. Barclay has it: “Seek the highest good of another.” Perhaps the best definition of AGAPE completely lacks the word in the context: 1 Corinthians 10:24, ‘Seek not for self but for others’ and Philippians 2:4, ‘Look not after self but others.’ AGAPE can be ruled by a) principle; and, b) motive. If the principle or motive be wrong then the AGAPE is misdirected. If the motive and principle are correct then the AGAPE is pure. There are only 4 occurrences of AGAPAO in the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings (Matthew 5:43, 44, 46; 6:24). Luke 6:27-35 outlines how this “love” is demonstrated: 1) pray for; 2) do good to; and, 3) lend without interest (Compare Luke 6:28 and Romans 12:20: enemies). Luke adds ‘pray for insulting’ and ‘do good to hateful.’ (Romans 12:14: bless) Your enemies are those who do not love you and are most often found among those bowing next to you in prayer or singing loudly God’s praises!

Paul argues that the “law’s fulfillment” is found in “love of neighbor.” (Galatians 5:14) If “love of neighbor” fulfills the law, what does “love of enemy” do? It leaps light years ahead of the Mosaic Law or Torah and puts before the average man a difficult, if not impossible task, unless one is committed to Nazarene discipleship.

[3] Prove to be Sons of your Heavenly Father: See Luke 6:35. Divine sonship does not come by birth as John 1:12, 13 shows. There must be a “birth from above.” (1 John chapters 3, 4) The strongest proof of this status as a son is to love one’s enemies. As Matthew and Luke show, the Father does good to both the wicked and unthankful. Thus, no Nazarene Saint can argue that one can withhold goodness from the wicked or ungrateful. It is the tendency to show kindness to those loving you, whereas God’s love is showered on those who might still ignore Him and continue to exist in a sinful state. With the Nazarene these are not mere words, for we see him demonstrating this again and again.

[4] If you only greet your brothers: Various renderings: TCNT: show courtesy to; GDSP: if you are polite to your brothers only; PHI: greetings only within your own circle. There is much of just plain good manners here and this graciousness is across the social board. The ultimate display of hate is to ignore greeting those with the simplest words that might indicate some spark of recognition or respect.

There is an exception which John, a witness to the Mountain Teachings, mentions at 2 John verse 10 in the context of known antichrists and deceivers.

[5] Non-Jews: This is ETHNIKOI in Greek, from which comes the English “ethnic.” The word means non-Jew and possibly rouses a certain feeling of superiority in Jesus’ audience. The Nazarene uses it four times in his sermon (Matthew 5:47; 6:7, 32).

[6] Perfect: This is the Greek word TELEIOI from TELOS (= “end”) and may be rendered “complete, mature, fulfilled.”

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Preceding article: Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

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Additional reading

  1. Christianity like Judaism God’s call to human responsibility
  2. A Royal Rule given to followers of Christ
  3. Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments
  4. Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works
  5. Luther’s misunderstanding
  6. To Soar In The Spirit You Have To Be Hard Core
  7. Wrath kills the foolish man, and envy consumes the covetous one
  8. If You want to start winning the war
  9. Love one another; just as I have loved you
  10. Seeds from the world creating division and separation from God
  11. Leaders in disguise
  12. The days are coming
  13. Today’s thought “Clothing yourselves with the right attitude” (May 16)
  14. Thought for September 8 Weak but standing strong in the ground swell
  15. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  16. Improving the world by improving the Faith
  17. Time Has A Way Of Healing

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Further reading

  1. The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) –
  2. Let’s Get Practical.
  3. A Love-Hate Relationship
  4. Love Your Enemies
  5. Matthew 5 – The Sermon on the Mount
  6. The divinely approved enemy
  7. When Belief Shows Up In Behavior.
  8. Godly Love.
  9. Peter Doesn’t Hold Back – Acts 4
  10. Proverbs 10 – Integrity and Love
  11. Proverbs 21 – Finding Life, Righteousness, and Honor
  12. 5 Reasons Why I’m Not a 5 Point Calvinist – A Biblical Response
  13. The suffering of the rightous
  14. TFTD – 05 July 2014 – Thoughts from Today’s Bible Readings
  15. The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 10:1-15
  16. The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise Matthew 5:27-32
  17. The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise5:33-37
  18. The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 5:43-48
  19. Matthew 5:44-45
  20. Forgiving Others
  21. Forgiveness 1
  22. Forgiveness 2
  23. Forgiveness 3
  24. Forgiveness 4
  25. Is Forgiveness The Key To Happiness?
  26. Forgiveness: An Act of Self Love
  27. Daily Inspiration – Forgiveness is a Wonderful thing.
  28. Expressions of Love
  29. How to Love the Unlovable
  30. Forgive Your Enemies
  31. Today’s Scripture reading (Love your enemies)
  32. Daily Bible Verse Matthew 5:44
  33. Scripture Verse Of The Week ‘Matthew 16 verse 25’
  34. Rise And Stand
  35. Resistance Isn’t Futile
  36. Friday, September 5, 2014
  37. Targeted Attacks by The Enemy
  38. At Odds with the World
  39. When we put on the “armor of God” – let’s not to forget to “walk humbly”
  40. Paris – Charlie Hebdo? The only way to win this thing is to love
  41. Paris terror and Christian response to evil
  42. When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. 
  43. Do not gloat when your enemies fall
  44. Of Dissonance and Hashkafah
  45. On A Common Curse
  46. One More Way How Not To Become A Saint
  47. Peace child
  48. What compassion, what patience
  49. Love in Action
  50. Jesus Motivates Us to Move to a Higher AGAPE Love Walk!
  51. Agape Love vs. Erotic Love

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